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Evening celebrates woman's legacy

Ben Crandall, left, and Jack Chaney, right, are 11-year-old cousins who will attend the 11th Emerald Eve in honor of their aunt, Donna, for the first time.

Ben Crandall, left, and Jack Chaney, right, are 11-year-old cousins who will attend the 11th Emerald Eve in honor of their aunt, Donna, for the first time. Submitted Photo

— Eleven years ago, the Emerald Eve was held in a living room, a night for family and friends of Donna Crandall to gather and celebrate her life.

Now, Emerald Eve is an annual event that draws some 350 guests and is held at the Canfield Casino in Saratoga Springs. It’s still a night to remember Donna, of Scotia, but it also has raised more than $1.2 million for the Donna M. Crandall Memorial Foundation.

“One of the really amazing things is that a lot of the people that were there at the first Emerald Eve have been at all the Emerald Eves,” said David Crandall, Donna’s husband. “I think it’s a tribute to Donna, to the family and most importantly it’s a tribute to the patients. … It’s really compelling that people want to reach out and try to make a difference.”

This year’s Emerald Eve is Saturday, Nov. 19, from 7 to 11 p.m.

The Crandall family created the foundation in 2000 after Donna’s death at age 41 from cystic fibrosis. Its mission is to provide support to people with CF and their families.

“The first thing we were able to do at the foundation was try to make people’s lives a little more normal or take their minds off dealing with the disease,” said Crandall.

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive systems of about 30,000 children and adults in the U.S., according to information from the foundation. A defective gene causes the body to produce unusually thick sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and pancreas, leading to life-threatening lung infections and preventing natural pancreatic enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.

The foundation recently handed out gift bags to patients in the hospital. They were filled with everything from candy, games, music players and Kindles to soft toilet paper and tissues, parking passes for family members and vouchers for the cafeteria so patients could treat themselves to better food. The foundation would also pay for the patient’s telephone and television in the hospital room.

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